Internet and the QL

A place to discuss general QL issues.
User avatar
simulant
ROM Dongle
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 13, 2019 11:15 am

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby simulant » Mon May 13, 2019 4:53 pm

Dave wrote:
Artificer wrote:I agree it looks a bit expensive especially with no returns if non functional.


We reached out to the guy and he's changing his policy. He does full returns and refunds for 14 days.

I'm making a fresh batch of mine. It comes with a QL cable, so, there is that. It also has a DB9 connector, so if/when faster serial comes along with a useful driver it will work with that too. My current "serial port" is a brute force discrete logic parallel<>serial shifter into a 2K FIFO that clocks the data in and out at 1,500,000 bps. It's clunky, and not right for "civilian use" - and also it's expensive, bulky and often trips up, with no handshaking or error detection/correction.


Hey guys, I'm Jonah from Simulant Shop - the website that sells those Retro Wifi SI modems.

Can I just say I am really happy you did reach out to us about this with Bo.

I admit it was some bad wording on our website and very misleading (and also untrue!). We had done lots of returns on those modems and have always done returns - the bad idea to add a "we accept no returns used and opened modems" type of line was due to most of the previous returns we'd done being down to user error, with wrong baud rates set etc or terminal software on their computers not being set up right. So we found ourselves swapping good working units and never actually swapping any defective ones! Anyway we added the "no returns!" warning just to try to get people to email us a bit more and retry things more and filter out some of those bogus returns. We'll always try to help as much as possible but some customers didn't try and just sent the package back to the return address we include on the label. The fact was we still did offer swaps and returns if people asked anyway despite it saying that. So it was just a bad idea.

Anyway it was poor judgement and as you say, UK law forces return policies anyway. I removed that warning as soon as Bo emailed. I'm grateful for you and Bo for reminding me that warning was still up, it was only ever supposed to be temporary while we worked out a better return policy or printed something in the parcel (or on the return label) to get customers to email their issues first.

Also I just wanted to defend the little modem we make too. I mean it it certainly wouldn't be anything without the awesome Zimodem firmware and that is why we write a lot of positive things about Bo's work on our website. It is fantastic what he does with that firmware. We use the ESP8266 which is cheaper than the ESP32 and that is reflected in our price. Ours is probably the cheapest off-the-shelf rs232 wifi modem out there including delivery worldwide. It's also got a case as standard too. Each unit is manually tested on an Amiga or other genuine retro computer before being posted out. So with soldering, making cases, testing and then also dealing with customer feedback/questions/returns it's really quite a good deal. We even host a small Amstrad BBS that users can test the units on too and include an instruction sheet with how to connect. So full support is there and a service to connect to and talk to us on the retro machine!

It doesn't have as many features as some of the other wifi rs232 modems out there, no LCD display or memory card slot etc - but it is reliable and works well. I run one on my own Amiga 4000 with a Hypercom serial card at 460800 baud which is just so fast for BBS use! It never lets me down and has been working great for over a year with daily use. We've had the modems reviewed and featured in both Retro Gamer magazine which is quite big here in the UK as well as Hackspace magazine also.

Again I can only apologise for that returns warning and now that it is rectified, I hope people wanting to get their old computers online will still see us as offering a viable option... I'm always here and happy to help if anyone ever wants to contact me via our website too. Thanks again. Keep up the great work too on the QL modem, that sounds fantastic. I've never had a QL but have various retro computers including other Sinclair/Spectrum machines. Hopefully I can get a QL one day and also buy one of your modems too for it :)


User avatar
vanpeebles
Commissario Pebbli
Posts: 2139
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:13 pm
Location: North East UK

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby vanpeebles » Mon May 13, 2019 5:29 pm

A warm welcome to the forum. Thank you for posting :)


User avatar
Dave
SandySuperQDave
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:52 am
Location: Austin, TX
Contact:

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby Dave » Mon May 13, 2019 6:32 pm

simulant wrote:Hey guys, I'm Jonah from Simulant Shop - the website that sells those Retro Wifi SI modems.

Can I just say I am really happy you did reach out to us about this with Bo.


No problem. I was at Bo's house yesterday and we mentioned it briefly. He's really happy you softened the wording. Both he and I are in sort of the same business as you, and I'm an ex-pat Brit, which is why he asked me to reach out.

simulant wrote:I admit it was some bad wording on our website and very misleading (and also untrue!). We had done lots of returns on those modems and have always done returns - the bad idea to add a "we accept no returns used and opened modems" type of line was due to most of the previous returns we'd done being down to user error, with wrong baud rates set etc or terminal software on their computers not being set up right. So we found ourselves swapping good working units and never actually swapping any defective ones! Anyway we added the "no returns!" warning just to try to get people to email us a bit more and retry things more and filter out some of those bogus returns. We'll always try to help as much as possible but some customers didn't try and just sent the package back to the return address we include on the label. The fact was we still did offer swaps and returns if people asked anyway despite it saying that. So it was just a bad idea.


His and my main fear is we know you like us are a small business, and we've seen a couple of really great operations go to the wall because of silly things like that. It just takes one unhappy customer to complain to the right people and you're out of business. The way you responded was friendly and professional, and we're both really happy you fixed the wording.

simulant wrote:Also I just wanted to defend the little modem we make too. I mean it it certainly wouldn't be anything without the awesome Zimodem firmware and that is why we write a lot of positive things about Bo's work on our website. It is fantastic what he does with that firmware. We use the ESP8266 which is cheaper than the ESP32 and that is reflected in our price. Ours is probably the cheapest off-the-shelf rs232 wifi modem out there including delivery worldwide. It's also got a case as standard too. Each unit is manually tested on an Amiga or other genuine retro computer before being posted out. So with soldering, making cases, testing and then also dealing with customer feedback/questions/returns it's really quite a good deal. We even host a small Amstrad BBS that users can test the units on too and include an instruction sheet with how to connect. So full support is there and a service to connect to and talk to us on the retro machine!


You should PM me. We're assembling a batch of the newer WiFi card and I am confident we can get some into your hands at a price you'll like. Also, the ESP8266 is a very capable chip. That said, the ESP32 actually works out cheaper with Carlos Santiago's new design. We could even make a batch with your URL/branding on it.

simulant wrote:Again I can only apologise for that returns warning and now that it is rectified, I hope people wanting to get their old computers online will still see us as offering a viable option... I'm always here and happy to help if anyone ever wants to contact me via our website too. Thanks again. Keep up the great work too on the QL modem, that sounds fantastic. I've never had a QL but have various retro computers including other Sinclair/Spectrum machines. Hopefully I can get a QL one day and also buy one of your modems too for it :)


You guys should check out Jonah's site: https://www.simulant.uk/shop/


User avatar
simulant
ROM Dongle
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 13, 2019 11:15 am

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby simulant » Mon May 13, 2019 9:25 pm

Great thanks Dave and as I say thanks for contacting me too. It's great to make friends with another person out there doing similar things and someone who loves these classic computers also. I'll definitely email you or PM you asap! :)


Derek_Stewart
QL Wafer Drive
Posts: 1471
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Runcorn, Cheshire, UK

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby Derek_Stewart » Mon May 13, 2019 11:41 pm

Hi,

I am interested in the wifi modem, can I access local file systems by connecting to server?

What advantages of using the wifi modem, over TCPSER and a Raspberry Pi?


Regards,

Derek
User avatar
simulant
ROM Dongle
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 13, 2019 11:15 am

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby simulant » Tue May 14, 2019 11:42 am

Derek_Stewart wrote:Hi,

I am interested in the wifi modem, can I access local file systems by connecting to server?

What advantages of using the wifi modem, over TCPSER and a Raspberry Pi?


Hi Derek, hope you are good :)

The wifi modem once connected appears to your computer system as if it was a Hayes modem. So you should be able to do anything you could of done back in the day with a "real" dialup modem. Bearing in mind dialup modems need an ISP, or something to connect to. So you can connect to other file systems or servers etc providing they have some kind of telnet server service running and can accept your connection.

Most classic computer systems have good terminal software or built in serial terminals so you can interface with a dialup modem - so you'd do the same here with the Wifi modem and type AT commands to "dial" telnet addresses. Or if you have a SLIP daemon running on another computer or Raspberry PI you could dial in to share its internet or such providing the computer you were using has a tcp/ip stack and dialer etc.

I haven't used a raspberry PI with TCPSER so I'm not sure of advantages or disadvantages other than the wifi modem is a dedicated device with no setup or configuration needed. You just plug it in, set your terminal to 1200 baud and then you can set the modem baud, connect it to wifi and start using it to connect to telnet BBSes and such :)

I don't want to hijack this thread so email me on my web shop link if you need anything but I do hope to get a QL one day soon!!


bixio60
Chuggy Microdrive
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 7:05 am

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby bixio60 » Tue May 14, 2019 4:32 pm

Derek,
I bought 2 devices from Simulant and I am very happy, good services, in few days it was at my home. In respect of TCPser is more simple and immediate, just plug in and you are in internet with your IP address. It doesn't need any additional PC, It works well with Q6x family, not yet tested with BBQL.
I tested it to connect Q68 and my PC with SMSQmulator via WiFi. I am experimenting now :) to resurrect my Rshell (Thierry G. ) BBS .....

Fabrizio

Derek_Stewart wrote:Hi,

I am interested in the wifi modem, can I access local file systems by connecting to server?

What advantages of using the wifi modem, over TCPSER and a Raspberry Pi?


User avatar
Dave
SandySuperQDave
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:52 am
Location: Austin, TX
Contact:

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby Dave » Tue May 14, 2019 4:41 pm

Interestingly, Simulant's WiFi modem uses Bo Zimmerman's firmware, which.... Bo lives around the corner from me. He's the guy I am co-operating with for the QL WiFi driver. Carlos, a third friend, did the initial ESP8266 version, and a revised ESP32 version that has a microSD slot too. My WiFi adapter is a size reduced and compatibility-improved version of that.

Web pages are fetched, for example, by:

Code: Select all

ATD "https://qlforum.co.uk:80"
ATT "GET https://qlforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2829"
[buffer the page]
ATH0


You can see how easily files can be transferred. Also, note how it will transparently deal with encryption. The ESP32 does this with no burden on the QL. Encryption/decryption on the fly requires an ESP32, not an ESP8266.

Side note: Bo has one of the largest and most complete collections of Commodores in existence - he has every PET, VIC, CXX, PC, watch, typewriter, etc. ever made. The PC10 featured on The 8-Bit Guy's channel last week for repair/retrobrite, it's now back home on Bo's shelf, which is how I got to meet and talk with David Murray about his Commander X16 project for a few hours last month.

Anyway, what our experience tells us is that the QL *desperately* needs a faster serial port. 9600 bps is insufficient for web browsing, though it is adequate for IRC, email (no attachments!) and file transfer. It also tells us we could really use a service provided by a central server to offer file uploads/downloads with preserved headers, no compression necessary. This could be combined with a Prestel-like service for indexing, descriptions, etc. I recall discussing creating some kind of shorthand mark-up language for this, just for QLs, but HTML is perfectly adequate.

It now seems the serial card is making good progress and a driver is on the horizon. The prototype has an ESP32 on it, using one of the serial channels. By moving jumpers (or solder bridges) it can either have two fully implemented RS-232 ports with hardware handshaking, or one RS-232 port and one ESP32 for WiFi/bluetooth/SD/GPIO/battery backed RTC/encryption engine/etc.

As an aside, the processor on the ESP32, the ESP32-D0WD, is the microcontroller I am likely using to replace the 8302/8049. That will bring USB keyboard and mouse support, sound, two serial ports supporting speeds over 2Mb/sec, I2C and SPI. The only limitation is that it will probably be attached to the QL bus via a 2K dual port memory. This is the wedge I plan to use to start using the 68SEC000 in 16-bit mode, and to bring in the 68EC030 - however, the ESP32 is not really a good match for the 030 and I might need to find something with a bit lower latency.


User avatar
robheaton
Site Admin
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:50 pm
Location: Ormskirk, UK

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby robheaton » Wed May 15, 2019 8:12 am

I've just ordered a WiFi modem from Simulant, looking forward to using it! :D


Current Retro Hardware :-
ZX80 Clone, ZX81 + Chroma + ZXPand + Zeddynet, Just Speccy 128, Speccy 48K, Spectrum 128 +2, BB Sinclair QL + Trump Card Clone, Aurora + Super GC + QubIDE.
BBC Model B 32k + Datacenter + Z80 Tube, BBC Master 512, BBC Master 128k + Datacenter & 6502 Tube.
Amiga 1200, Commodore 64 x3, Commodore 128, C64 Ultimate, VIC 20, Sega Megadrive, Mega CD & 32X.
User avatar
Peter
Aurora
Posts: 902
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Internet and the QL

Postby Peter » Wed May 15, 2019 8:22 pm

Dave wrote:As an aside, the processor on the ESP32, the ESP32-D0WD, is the microcontroller I am likely using to replace the 8302/8049. That will bring USB keyboard and mouse support, sound, two serial ports supporting speeds over 2Mb/sec, I2C and SPI. The only limitation is that it will probably be attached to the QL bus via a 2K dual port memory.

Doesn't that mean you need completely new software drivers for keyboard, sound and SER?



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: QLvsJAGUAR and 7 guests